Analysis shows coral loss of 14% worldwide

First report in 13 years shows damaging effect of warming ocean

Before and after images of heat-stress related coral bleaching in American Samoa, in the tropical Pacific.
Before and after images of heat-stress related coral bleaching in American Samoa, in the tropical Pacific. (XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

The largest global analysis of coral reef health ever undertaken indicates that rising ocean temperatures resulted in a 14% loss of global corals. The Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2020 offsite link report from NOAA and partners around the world also found indications of coral resilience in some locations, offering hope that coral reefs can recover if immediate steps are taken to curb future ocean warming.

“People around the world depend on healthy coral reefs and the services they provide for food, income, recreation, and protection from storms,” said Jennifer Koss, director of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. “It is possible to turn the tide on the losses we are seeing, but doing so relies on us as a global community making more environmentally conscious decisions in our everyday lives.”

This is the first report since 2008, which fills a significant gap in contemporary understanding of global status and trends in coral reefs. The analysis used data from nearly two million observations from more than 12,000 collection sites in 73 countries over a time span of 40 years (1978-2019), representing the work of over 300 scientists.

For more details on the report, please visit the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network offsite link.

Media contact

Jennie Lyons, jennie.lyons@noaa.gov, 202-603-9372